We couldn’t decide what to do for dinner tonight, so we flipped a coin and The Mediterranean in the Concord Park-And-Shop won. Besides having a great dinner, we also met the gracious owner and learned about her restaurants (we didn’t realize there is another location in Walnut Creek, and there used to be one in Berkeley).
This hummus was great, made from fresh ingredients prepared in house. It was very creamy in texture, and tangy with mild garlic. Even though Zach could make it himself, it’s something we would get in a pinch, say, if August had to provide snacks for an afterschool meeting. Of course it was great for scooping with the pita bread, and we imagine it would be a good spread on a sandwich, too.
Nearly 2/3 of the menu is vegan, including all the fresh salads. The tabbouleh was strongly green and very refreshing with parsley, tomato, green onion, cucumber, bulgur wheat, and lemon oil dressing. The mujaddara, totally new to both of us, was a lentil salad with rice, golden fried onion, tomato and cucumber. This was much more savory and earthy; as August put it, what tabbouleh is to summer, mujaddara is to autumn. August really enjoyed the lemon and bulgur wheat elements of the tabbouleh, and Zach particularly liked the mujaddara, especially for the onions and lentils.
Either she’s getting good at identifying flavors, or the house-made dolmas were that simple yet tasty. “Lemon, olive oil, rice, grape leafs, and some spices,” said August. When the ingredients are that easy to identify, you know they are quality.
Keeping with the vegan theme, we got the falafel deluxe. Falafel, eggplant, potato, cucumber salad, seasoned onion, parsley, and tahini sauce arrived wrapped in lavash bread (both vegan and Passover-friendly). August was happy that the falafel wasn’t overspiced, yet you could hardly call it mild. The sesame, chickpeas, and curry blend gave it a very rich meaty texture, kind of like liver or pate. The grilled eggplant added a velvety ribbon through the wrap.
Now, for some meat! August is forever loyal to lamb; as long as it’s treated well and not mislabeled as mutton, she’ll eat it. Zach is the picky one, and this passed the test. Some people might be fooled into thinking the lamb is grass-fed beef, because it had a very mild flavor. The way the shawerma was wrapped, we were left with meat on one side and vegetables on the other, which was great for switching between bites of the spiced lamb and the cooling tomatoes, parsley, and onions with tahini sauce.
The traditional desserts are delicious and two of them are vegan – even the baklava that the owner makes herself with oil instead of butter. August has had baklava before that was sopping wet with honey, and she’s also had it so dry that it stuck to her teeth on the first chew. This, though, had the texture like a perfect Butterfinger. It was flaky but not crumbly, and crunchy yet still with some pull to it. The Turkish Delights, the other vegan treat, were like nuggets of floral, flourless, gummy fruitcake. With plentiful nuts and bergamot orange-flavored jelly, these were dense and flavorful bites. The burma had a pistachio filling and the shredded filo dough shell was halfway between a cookie and a pastry, but all the way tasty.
Freshness, quality, and economics combine for a great meal to satisfy your taste buds, stomach, and wallet. If you can find a spot for your car (because it’s tough a lot of the time), it’s worth the frustration of the inadequate parking lot to come to The Mediterranean.
Zach’s high school class representatives haven’t done anything about a reunion yet, and the 5 and 10 year marks have already passed. He thought it would be fun to plan a very casual, very informal barbecue for this summer, just as a way to reconnect before we start planning for the big 15. Tonight we met with four of Zach’s classmates to begin initial planning, and we suggested to them that we meet at Memo’s (which we’ve reviewed before), hoping we could turn on some more people to this restaurant off the beaten path.
Zach got this big burrito especial style, as did two others at the table, although they got beef and vegetarian while he ordered pork. No matter what you order, you can count on your meal being fresh and satisfying. His burrito had tender and flavorful pork, and the mole had “so much flavor, you’re wondering how many spices are in there.” One thing he noted, though, was that the mole tonight wasn’t quite the same as the mole we had our first time, so we postulated that due to the nature of real ingredients, there is bound to be some variance without genetically-modified “perfect” ingredients.
August likes al pastor pork, so she got these tacos to try how Memo’s does it. The spices, there are so many, but it’s not a spicy dish – intense flavor, but no heat. Most impressive is the fact that the only thing on this plate not made from scratch is the queso fresco.
There is plenty of room for big groups here at Memo’s, even though from the outside it looks like a small space. If you have a need to make reservations for a large party, consider calling Memo’s.
Today was tax day for us, so we walked around the corner from our local H&R in Todos Santos Plaza and stopped into Korean Bulgogi House for dinner. Not family style like the last Korean place we went to, here you get huge platters for yourself.
To try a sampling of tempura items, we got the combo. Four shrimp, four stuffed mushrooms, four stuffed jalapeños, and four pot stickers came with a sweet and tangy dipping sauce. The shrimp was sweet and cooked well, and the mushrooms and jalapeños had a savory ground beef filling. The vegetables for this and our two entrees were all super fresh.
August got something similar to her favorite dish from her now-closed favorite Korean restaurant. Glass noodles are mixed with vegetables and choice of meat, plus sides of rice, salad, and pickled radish. The noodles were cooked just right, as were the vegetables. The pork had its own marinade and sauce, so she didn’t feel the need to add anything extra like soy sauce or sriracha.
Zach chose spicy chicken and BBQ short rib for his two-item combo. Also with rice, salad, and radish, the featured meats were tender and flavorful. The spicy chicken wasn’t too spicy; August tried a bite and liked it. We agreed that the salad had a nice light dressing, and the pickled radishes were a thoughtful touch.
If you’re in downtown Concord and looking for a cost-effective restaurant with non-American comfort food, make your way here. It’s very close to the free parking garage and Brendan Theaters, so it can be a great place for a lunch and matinee date.